Ignoring The Plain Consequences

New Yorker coverIf classical thinkers seem overly obsessed with the issue of human sexuality, then progressive thinkers seem deliberately ignorant of human sexuality. This is seen clearly when it comes to gay relationships.

The New Yorker magazine has a new cover that for all intents and purposes plainly portrays two characters long popular in children programming as enjoying each other’s company in a setting that is plainly intimate and more than mere friendship. Given that the Supreme Court just a few days prior to the issue’s publication struck down limits on the legalization of gay marriage, the image of the judges being on the cover makes the message clear. On The New Yorker web site, an article about the new cover openly declares what is presented.

“It’s amazing to witness how attitudes on gay rights have evolved in my lifetime,” said Jack Hunter, the artist behind next week’s cover, “Moment of Joy.” Hunter, who originally submitted his image, unsolicited, to a Tumblr, continued, “This is great for our kids, a moment we can all celebrate.”

Yet, some still refuse to acknowledge the fact.

Then again, in response to an 2011 online petition calling for Bert and Ernie to tie the knot, the Sesame Workshop’s Facebook page offered this statement:

“Bert and Ernie are best friends. They were created to teach preschoolers that people can be good friends with those who are very different from themselves. Even though they are identified as male characters and possess many human traits and characteristics…they remain puppets, and do not have a sexual orientation.”

That sounds innocuous enough, but the image on the magazine goes beyond the puppets being “good friends” and does in fact present the characters as having a “sexual orientation.” A picture of a teenaged boy and a teenaged girl sitting in a dark room, with the boy wrapping his arm around the girl’s shoulder while she leans on him would be construed as something more than just friendship. The cover of The New York is portraying two male characters in a romantic setting.

Though marriage is being redesigned as a fluid relationship of sentiment and separated from any sexual acts, it is naïve to somehow imagine that couples have a romantic partnership that is platonic (without sex). In real life, affections are driven by emotions and can stir romantic interests and romantic interests can and do easily lead to sexual tension if not sex itself. There is a reason why young, heterosexual couples were once given chaperones.

The problem with this cover is that Bert and Ernie are characters who are primarily aimed at a very young audience. Prepubescent boys will not catch the sexual overtones of Bert and Ernie’s shared affection, but when puberty blooms, practicing the same affection will inevitably spark sexual tension. If young boys have been raised to be affectionate with one another, it is not a stretch to speculate that they will easily discover gay relationships in their teens. This is complicated by the possibility of an older gay male becoming affectionate with a teenaged boy.

Bert and Ernie are unique characters and there seems to be a bit more adulthood in Bert than Ernie. This essentially makes The New Yorker as presenting an imagine of an adult male Bert in a romantic relationship with a teenaged Ernie.

It might be argued that this is all speculation and exacerbation of reality. It might be. However, the fact that Bert and Ernie are the focus on the magazine cover as well as the focus of a petition for them to be openly gay on Sesame Street shows that children will targeted with a message of platonic affection between two men. The realities of how that translates into real life once puberty hits is ignored. Young men with newly ignited sex drives may find social pressure to be gay.

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Christians Need To Let Go Of The Future And Rediscover The Past

“Surely, these are the end times.”

Christians are more likely to utter this phrase now that the United States Supreme Court has struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and upheld the California Court decision to strike down Proposition 8, which effectively banned homosexual marriage in the state. What the opinion accomplished was to prevent a federal ban on such marriages and to allow individual states to make their own choices (not necessarily a bad thing). There are those, of course, who actually wished the federal courts would have forced a universal legalization of same-sex marriage, overriding state laws.

The court, though, seems to have countered its own opinion. If California legally passed a ban on homosexual marriage by popular vote and that law was struck down by state court and the striking down was supported by federal court, did the state of California actually decide for itself on the issue?

For the Christian defenders of a traditional view of marriage derived from scriptures, this is a profound defeat. The culture has for several decades moved radically away from a divinely oriented view of marriage to a humanist view of marriage. Whereas the religious teachings on marriage were revered, they are now being replaced with a legal view of marriage. The question now is what the church should do in the face of such inglorious defeat.

It is here that popular views of the immediate future as well as an obsessive emphasis on the future are going to severely weaken and undermine Christian resolve to carry on culturally.

Evangelical Christianity has operated intensely over the past few decades under the “Left Behind” scenario. According to the current Christian prophet industry, our modern technological age as well as the fall of the United States will mark the rise of Satan’s empire on earth and shortly thereafter the end of human history and the material universe as we know it.

It sounds dramatic and given how “un-Christian” things seem to be in the United States, there is ample evidence that the world is in a spiritual and moral toilet and quickly flushing itself into obliteration. A Christian needs only the news feeds, his bible, and a shelf of books and he has all the bad news and prophetic predictions of dooms-day he will need for the brief decades humanity has left.

However, Christians have two choices when dealing with massive cultural and moral changes happening around them. It is the same two choices they have always had. They can either find an escape from or they can find hope in the midst of what is affecting them. Christians, for the most part, believe the culture around them is turning against traditional marriage and may soon make it difficult to vocally advocate for traditional marriage and near impossible to criticize other sexual alternatives (consider the concept of hate speech).

The popular call is for Christians to bet on an escape from the modern world, to quietly hope for a secret “rapture” in which Jesus miraculously smuggles them out of the material universe and to heaven where a kind of utopia awaits them. This is a pessimistic view of life masquerading as a “future hope.” It is cultish in its premise and essentially offers nothing here and now for Christians to work for other than biding their time. Since human history is on the verge of being annihilated in the judgment of God, there is nothing worth laboring for other than getting from point A to point Escape.

A more reasonable response would be for Christians to focus on their history and relinquish the obsession over the future. The future is ultimately unknown by all but God Himself. Being obsessed with it only breeds speculation and anxious expectations of events that may or may not come. The fatalism found in waiting for an escape from a doomed world, a proverbial sinking ship, renders life itself to be of little value. Christians abstain from fornication, marry, pray, and go to church because they are commanded to, but not necessarily because these things might actually go any good.

An extreme example of the recklessness of popular prophecy (so-called) can be found in Vietnam. In 2011, Harold Camping predicted the Rapture would happen May that year. In Vietnam, Hmong Christians by the thousands gathered in April and the resulting clash with Vietnamese police left dozens killed. The reason they gathered was because they expected the Rapture to happen just as Camping had predicted. Theirs was not a protest for better living conditions or the beginning of mass ministry to the poor, but a fatalistic motion based on the belief of imminent escape to a spiritual utopia. They martyred themselves for a place in paradise. Pessimistic and fatalistic.

Christian history is far from being speculative and is grounded in real and substantive evidence that can be persevered, studied, and learned from. The past provides a grounded foundation for identity and a fixed point from which to steer current endeavors. Christians know who they are today not because what might be coming tomorrow, but from what has already come yesterday. It is Christ crucified that informs the Christian identity and not being “rapture ready.” History educates and enriches, it provokes critical thought and preserves timeless wisdom. It is said those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

With a solid grounding in history and the abandoning of future speculation, the Christian is free to focus on life here and now. He is free to take his history, be confident in his identity, and do the noble work of learning and applying it not only for the glory of God, but the good of his neighbor. The work is always needed and though not always as productive as desired, it never wavers in its importance.

In the face of a culture shifting away from a traditional understanding of sexuality, biblical marriage, and possibly marriage itself, the Christian, grounded in history, can work here and now. He can practice a biblical-based morality in terms of marriage and sex and trust that God, in His providence and goodness, will right things over the coming decades, given that it is God that is sovereign. There is no reckless speculation or hopeless despair. There is patience, faith, and perseverance. There is leading by example. Sometimes a quiet and persistence faith can be a very bright light in a dark world.

The church needs to keep in mind that the court decision does not ban Christians from marrying on religious grounds and living in a traditional marriage. The Christian does not have to agree or accept the court’s decision, but they also do not need to throw themselves on swords and reenact a passion play. As uncomfortable as it is for Christians to live with a culture counter to their own, it is not hopeless nor beyond repair or redemption.

The grand scheme of mothership USS Jesus coming to beam Christians into another dimension is best left in the “fiction” section of bargain bin book sales.

The Closing Of Western Woes

For the past two and half years, I have posted on Western Woes, working out my thoughts on culture, sex, and religion. I feel, though, that I have reached a point in time where I have said what I needed to say and it is time to leave it behind.

Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. – Ecclesiastes 7:8 KJV

[Edit: On June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States presented a major opinion on laws that affect same-sex marriage. Naturally, I felt the need to put down my observations and thoughts. So Western Woes is open for business again. Progressives just will not let up.]

An English Constitution In A Multi-Everything World

American history holds facts that are proving to be ignored elephants of reality in the small living rooms of real life. The legitimacy of the nation’s founding in the face of new realities have been under assault for fifty years and more. Progressive critics of America’s past have been successful in dulling the glean of national pride among her citizens.

The demographic changes happening are well known, but politely ignored by most except those are who not so polite. Mass Hispanic immigration along with the anemic replacement birth rate among whites is altering the country. Both classical thinking and progressive thinking Americans know this; the former bemoan it while the later celebrate it.

Charles M. Blow, a black columnist for the New York times, writes candidly about these changes.

There has been the rapid rise of minority populations and stagnation in the growth of the non-Hispanic white population in this country. Now, Hispanics represent a majority of all births in America, and last week The New York Times reported on census data that revealed that “deaths exceeded births among non-Hispanic white Americans for the first time in at least a century.”

Blow, being a progressive, essentially touts this and other facts as good for his own party’s cause in a simplistic Democrat / Republican dynamic, which is now useless.

They have also signaled that conservative arguments on many of these issues are losing their resonance nationally, and that the Republican pool of potential voters is shrinking while the Democratic pool expands.

As a minority, he stands to benefit from the changes, even if they mean the disenfranchisement of non-minorities. What he misses is that the progressive culture will not withstand the realities that will logically emerge.

Vox Day, a classical thinker, offers a much more somber and pessimistic view of America’s demographic changes.

The fruits of diversity are bloodshed and war.  They always have been.  Populations of sufficiently differing time preferences simply cannot live together for long. And the only successful way to keep those fruits from ripening has is a powerful militaristic state willing and able to commit atrocities in order to keep the otherwise warring parties in line.

Blow also sees this change.

And, we are becoming less blindly religious and more blindly militaristic. (The former is a good thing; the latter, not so much.)

Now, these dire speculations may or may not come true (who can ultimately know the future other than the Almighty?). They do, however, provoke an important question of how the Constitution will be viewed in the future.

Part of the foundation for progressive argument is the dismantling of an Axis of supremacy: Anlgo, Male, and Christian. Through multi-cultural promotion (including mass immigration), feminism, and philosophical skepticism, progressives have successfully assaulted this particular ethnic group and now have little concern for its continuing demise.

It is argued that the Constitution is capable of covering all Americans from all facets of human existence. That may be true, but the culture from which democratic ideas were forged was uniquely European, mostly English-speaking, and influenced by French philosophy, Christian metaphysics, and classical Greek foundations. From this “renaissance” culture, the idea of a Constitution Republic was born. Historically, Anglo culture was the impetus for what Americans enjoy today.

It was also under America’s founding that the African slave trade operated and Mexican citizens lost large portions of their territories to American expansion. These past events, viewed as atrocities and crimes by progressive thought, are still revisited today in history classes and held as sacrosanct in academic circles for the cause of social justice.

Minorities have no foundational reason to view the U.S. Constitution as anything but a white man’s document and American history as something not to be celebrated, but brooded upon. As the white population declines in America, there will be less and less support for Jefferson’s Constitution and its ideas.

As the European Union drafted a new constitution for new realities, so the United States will soon face a similar question. In the past, liberty governed by religious morality was the goal. In the future an ordered and controlled society, for the sake of peace, will be the priority, not freedom. Such a state will require a militaristic and oppressive government. Vox writes:

Consider, for example, the difference between segregation as it was practiced in the pre-1960s USA and the way it was practiced in the USSR and China.  Or the way it is presently practiced in Africa with the various tribes vying for power in the national government.

In Africa, Afrikaners (whites), have literally walled themselves off from the rest of the nation. Though the news doesn’t explain this, it is to escape the African-on-Afrikaner violence as well as the African-on-African violence.

Let’s pray the same does not happen in the United States.

A Reality That The Church Needs To Face

In the twenty-first century, the branches of Christianity opposed to the advance of progressive thought have essentially lost much of the ground they fought for. The more dynamic and colorful voices fought a culture war against abortion, pornography, and pop culture. Their efforts were less a brave act of counter-culture and more a loud shout of defiance before defeat.

The conservative versus liberal dichotomy has proven to be a false conflict, a red herring. It is, in reality, simply the difference between bold progressives and reluctant progressive. Both sides are essentially progressive, with the liberal foot on the accelerator and the conservative foot on the brake.

What is emerging in American society is a transition from a patriarchal ordering (male oriented and female and children subordinate) to a matriarchal ordering (female and children oriented and male subordinate). Regardless of how or why it happened or what should be done about it, the church needs to face it and face the conflict it is going to have with this type of society.

Christianity is a historic religion and both its holy text and the God it declares are masculine. The Bible is a male-oriented text, written by men to men, guided by a divine Father through the authority granted to a divine Son. There is no way to soften this or smooth it over without ignoring the majority of what is presented. Even though Christianity is a benevolent faith, founded as it was by the innocent sacrificing for the guilty, it is nonetheless a man’s faith.

We have the dominance of ideas that are forcing a transforming of American culture to a female orientation amidst a religion that is completely male oriented.

One major area this is manifesting itself is in the family. Men and women are still marrying, but the roles for each spouse are now confused. Who stays home with the kids? Who works and brings in the income to support the family? Who is the final arbitrator of decisions when there is disagreement? In the current state of equality, there is an attempt to make the roles and responsibilities fluid and distributed equally among both partners. However, this is proving to be a challenge because two working parents require a third-party to raise the children and decision-making brings conflicts because both command the status that comes with being the financial and material provider.

Suzanne Venker, writing for Fox News, recognizes this tension and offers a predicted solution:

… I do believe the one-income family, which offers a notably stress-free lifestyle, will make a comeback—the difference being that more and more dads will be the ones to stay home, which I think is a great compromise to the relentless work/family conflict.

To preserve the family structure from disintegration, as is happening with an economy allowing for two working parents, a return to the patriarchy of the past is simply not an option (called turning back the clock). What is an option is moving from equality to a state of matriarchy, where women are the dominant and oriented gender of society. This will inevitable require men to accept a place of subordination to their breadwinner wives.

Much of the conflict stems from the fact that men are just not laying down and accepting the new proposed and increasingly enforced order. The path of single motherhood with a career remains a staple for women until they can find a “good man,” one who will respect the place of dominance her success demands.

As more and more mothers become breadwinners, men are simply faced with two choices. They can either refuse to marry, refuse to be forced into a subordinate role, or they can surrender and accept a woman and child-oriented world. The biblical idea of men being the providing and protecting authority in a family is a thing of the past. It will inevitably put a biblical Christianity at odds with the surrounding culture.